An Interview with Betsy Jochum
Betsy Jochum was one of the first players in the AAGPBL. She spent her entire career with the South Bend Blue Sox. She was kind enough to answer some questions for The Diamond Angle.
1) How did you get interested in playing baseball and where did you play before you turned pro?
I played in Cincinnati in two leagues. P.K. Wrigley sent a Cubs scout to Cincinnati to hold tryouts for his new league. Then I was sent to Wrigley Field for final trials and put on the South Bend Blue Sox.
2) Describe your signing.
The contract came in the mail if I remember correctly. I liked it and signed.
3) What positions did you play? Which teams did you play for?
Left field, centerfield, and I pitched in 1948. I played first base for a while when the regular was hurt. 1943-1948 South Bend Blue Sox.
4) What were the best things about playing ball?
The keen competition and fun playing. Being paid to play and have fun doing it. Meeting lots of other athletes and the wonderful, faithful fans we had. Having our own bus after the first two years of travel.
5) What were the worst things?
Travelling all night and playing the same day. Not having days off. We played practically everyday and had double headers on Sundays and holidays.
6) What was the highlight of your career?
Winning the batting championship in 1944. Playing before 10,000 people on the 4th of July in South Bend. Playing an exhibition game in Wrigley Field (1944?) under temporary lights. Our league having Spring Training in Havana, Cuba in 1947. Having a display of our league opened up at Cooperstown - The Baseball Hall of Fame. In the Hall of Fame for the South Bend Silverhawks (of the Midwest League) at Coveleski Field, I have a bronze plaque hung in the concourse. Inducted into the Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame. Meeting lots of nice people.
7) Do you think the fans and press accepted you more as the years wore on? Describe how it was when you started. Did increased exposure change some minds? Were some cities better than others?
After seeing a few of our highly skilled games the fans became loyal followers. We had good press exposure, though not enough pictures here in South Bend. All the teams had good attendance and of course some had a few more and some were more fun to play in.
8) Who were your favorite big league players during the era you played in?
Don't remember exactly who they were then. But I remember Johnny Bench and the World Champion Cincinnati Reds. Also, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, etc. during their playing time.
9) Do you follow big league ball now? If so, how does it compare to your day?
Not really. Players in our day had a very different attitude. I like to watch the World Series.
10 ) Should women have their own pro league, should they play in the majors, or should we have both?
Women should have their own major league and minor leagues plus the sponsors to make it go.
11) With all the progress women have made in recent years, why do you think there is no pro women's league? Why do basketball and soccer have women's leagues and baseball doesn't?
For one thing basketball and soccer for women are in high school sports. Baseball isn't. There are scholarships available in basketball and soccer. There are also sports camps for basketball and soccer.
12) How did you feel about the Silver Bullets?
Never had the opportunity to see them play - heard they were very good.
13) Describe your life since your pro career ended.
Went to college, got my degree. Taught for 26 years. Retired. Play golf now. After a career in the pros I played for recreation in volleyball, raquetball, bowling, golf, basketball. I try to stay active. Do meals on wheels, volunteer for 15 years. I attend all of our AAGPBL reunions wherever they are held. We always have lots of fun when we all get together again.
14) What advice would you have for young women who want to become pro ballplayers?
Go for it. There are so many more opportunities for women who have the talent. Takes a lot of hard but enjoyable work and practice. So you must be dedicated.
15) Any other memories or comments?
A lifetime with many thrills. Chance to travel. First flight was to Cuba for Spring Training. Met many wonderful people and made many new friends. We always have a good time when we see each other at reunions. The best one - after we hadn't seen each other for 40 years - 1983 - in Chicago - our first reunion, been having them ever since. Big 50th reunion was here in South Bend, 446 people in 1993.
Having our movie "League of Their Own" made, I watched filming at Evansville, Indiana and met all the stars and Penny Marshall.
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